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NASCAR Cup: Erik Jones officially named driver of No. 20 for 2018

Erik Jones (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Erik Jones (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Joe Gibbs Racing made official via an announcement on Tuesday the move of Erik Jones from the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. Jones will replace Matt Kenseth in the No. 20. Kenseth said during his media availability at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on July 7 that he doesn’t have a job for 2018, yet.

“Matt has been a tremendous asset to our organization over the past five seasons, both on and off the track,” JGR owner Joe Gibbs Racing said. “He’s been a great teammate and a great ambassador for our sponsors. We have a great deal of respect for him, and we are working hard to get the 20 team into the playoffs to make a run for the championship. We have a great deal of confidence in his abilities to do just that.”

Jones is already under contract with Joe Gibbs Racing and is driving the No. 77 at Furniture Row through an agreement between the two race teams. The deal that put Jones in the No. 77 for 2017 was announced as only a one-year deal prior to the start of this season, and speculation has put Jones in the No. 20 in 2018 ever since.

The future of the No. 77 team, beyond 2017, is unknown and will depend on sponsorship backing.

While Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser doesn’t know yet whether or not he’ll field two cars next year, he has confirmed that Martin Truex Jr., who won his third race of the season July 9 in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, will continue as the driver of FRR’s No. 78 Toyota next year.

“Regarding today’s announcement that Erik Jones will drive in the NASCAR Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, starting in 2018, Furniture Row Racing’s commitment to Jones and the No. 77 team remains the same for the remainder of the season,” Visser said. “Our goal is for Jones to qualify for the playoffs, make a run for the championship and capture Rookie of the Year honors.

“We are working on our team plans for 2018, but don’t have anything concrete to report at this time, except that Martin Truex Jr. will continue to drive the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.”

Jones is 14th in the points standings and has one top-five and five top-10 finishes in the 18 races, so far, in 2017 as driver of the No. 77. Prior to his move to Cup and FRR this year, Jones competed full-time in the Xfinity Series for two seasons, driving for JGR. He also runs part-time for Gibbs in the Xfinity Series this season. In Gibbs cars, Jones has won eight Xfinity Series races and posted 34 top-fives and 46 top-10 finishes in 68 races.

“It’s exciting to have Erik back to run full-time with us, starting next season,” JGR owner Joe Gibbs said. “When a number of circumstances made it clear over the past few weeks that a second year for the 77 car was, probably, not viable at this time for Erik, we all agreed that we wanted to keep him in the Toyota Racing family and felt it was the right time to make this transition. He is an exciting driver that has already proven to have the ability to compete at the highest level of our sport. He is also shown to be a great representative to our partners, and we believe he is at the beginning of a long and successful career.”

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexmainer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on July 11, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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